With five bedrooms, high ceilings and a Belgravia address, this Georgian property would be a desirable family home even without its prestigious recent history.
The Independent can reveal Baroness Thatcher’s London house will soon be placed on the open market, having been bought by a development company in the months after her death in April last year.
The property, in one of the capital’s most well-heeled squares, is currently undergoing much-needed renovation, with recent photos revealing faded patches on patterned wallpaper where pictures once hung.
The plans to renovate 73 Chester Square include efforts to rid it of previous alterations that are “not fitting” with the original character of the property, according to planning submissions received by Westminster Council.
“Throughout the property, there is evidence of original features being replaced with cornices, skirtings and other detailing, which are not fitting with the Georgian criterion. It is proposed to reinstate these features,” the planning submissions state.
Plans of the proposed development by Belgravia-based property company Leconfield show that on the lower ground floor, a room marked for “security” will be converted into a bedroom with an existing courtyard being replaced with a wine store and “media room”.
The Thatchers’ library on the ground floor will become a “snug” while bedrooms, dressing rooms and ensuite bathrooms on upper floors will have an altered layout. It is understood that, once renovations are complete, the townhouse will be put on the market as a single family home.
A source close to the deal told The Independent the former Conservative Prime Minister’ home had been “sold last summer” but would not elaborate on the price paid. Estimates place the market value of the house at up to £12m.
The previously unreported sale of the property followed intense speculation last year about the value of Baroness Thatcher’s estate, and how much had been left to her children, twins Sir Mark and Carol Thatcher. Much of the estate was thought to have included the Chester Square property – where the Thatcher family lived since 1991. It was outside this home that Sir Mark and Carol addressed the press in the days after their mother’s death last April, aged 87.
But in November reports emerged that the Chester Square property had been owned by an offshore trust registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The Daily Mirror reported that although Baroness Thatcher left a £4.7m estate to be shared among her family members, the Chester Square property, being registered in the British Virgin Islands, was effectively outside the will.
The newspaper claimed Baroness Thatcher may have legally “avoided millions in inheritance tax” by “keeping a chunk of her fortune offshore” with her family as beneficiaries.
According to Land Registry title deeds for 73 Chester Square, the freehold for the property was acquired by Bakeland Property Company Ltd, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and with a Liechtenstein address, on 29 March 2006 for £2.4m (actual figure £2.395m).
It is also not known whether Sir Mark and Carol are the ultimate beneficiaries of the offshore trust. However, in 2002 The Guardian reported that shares in Bakeland Property were held by Leonard Day and Hugh Thurston, described by the paper as the “Thatcher family’s financial advisers”.
According to Mark Hollingsworth’s book Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher, the family’s finances were masterminded by the late Sir Michael Richardson, “the most powerful investment banker of his generation”.
This week none of those involved in the sale and redevelopment of Chester Square would speak to The Independent. Savills, the agent handling the planning process, declined to comment.
“Given the sensitive nature of the property, all professionals engaged are bound by confidentiality agreements,” one person familiar with the sale said.
The renovation proposals will see the house’s staircase “retained and protected, made good and decorated” while on the first floor, the proportions of the existing grand rooms will be “untouched”.